Teaching books rescued from a dumpster. A basement transformed to an imaginary classroom. Stuffed animals portrayed as students. Years later, Southmoreland High School English teacher, Mrs. Jenna Hixson is guiding students towards AP level classes while possessing the Barnes & Noble’s Favorite Teacher Award.
“I found out when I checked my email and saw one that said ‘Congratulations!’ but I just figured it was junk mail,” said Hixson. “But it turned out that I had won.”
Students were asked to write a one page essay, poem, or thank you letter to their favorite teacher of choice from anywhere in their school district. Out of eighty- seven applications throughout seven school districts, Hixson was honored in twenty four of them.
“The biggest point made out of all the letters showed her dedication towards her job and her willingness to try new things with her students,” said Barnes & Noble’s Community Business Development Manager, Megan Huhn. “Everyone made it very clear that she goes above and beyond for her students.”
Typically one submission for the winning teacher is chosen to be read at a ceremony at a local Barnes & Noble store in front of their teacher and would then move on to the regional level competition. But this year was a bit different.
Although a winning submission was chosen, since there were so many applications regarding Hixson’s impact on her students’ lives, the winner’s name will not be released until the winner of the regional level is announced.
“It doesn’t matter to me what student won just as long as Mrs. Hixson was recognized for her successful years of service,” said sophomore Kaylee Brosius.
After finally receiving copies of all twenty four entries, some light was shed on things for Hixson.
“I realized things that I never thought about before,” said Hixson. “I never knew that how happy I am all the time really impacted my students that much. You never know when you could be the only smiling face a student sees all day.”
In honor of Educator’s Appreciation Week, a five day book fair was held with twenty percent of the profits made at the Barnes & Noble online store to be given to Reading Buddies, a program run by Hixson to buddy read weekly with kindergarten and first grade students to spread the joys of reading to younger generations. The money will be used by Hixson to buy new books for the students .
“I think that reading can be a great escape for all ages,” said Hixson. “Part of my goal as a teacher is to be a safe haven for children who may not have the best home life, and books have made my childhood special, so I want to share that with others.”
Not only does Hixson impact children who she only sees once a week, but she has an even bigger impact on the students she does see every day.
“She’s my life coach,” said Brosius. “I can come to her with any of my problems, and she’s always there for me.”
“She taught me that you don’t have to have the best or be the best to be happy,” said sophomore, Keera Frye. “She’s showed me to do what I love and what makes me happy no matter what the circumstances. There’s no other teacher I would rather have win this award.”
"Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud"- Maya Angelou
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